Dow to Deploy Nuclear Reactors at Texas Site

17.05.2023 - In an as yet unusual move for a chemical producer, Dow plans to build what it said is a “first set” of small modular nuclear reactors at its Seadrift, Texas, site south of Houston, in partnership with Maryland-based nuclear developer X-Energy Reactor Co.

CEO Jim Fitterling said the project would be a first for a manufacturing company. Dow is also taking an equity stake in X-Energy.

According to Fitterling, the four-reactor set-up will reinforce the chemical giant’s mission to grow its production while reducing emissions at its manufacturing facilities. The project was announced in 2022, but the company has just named the site.

Small modular reactors can deliver clean, compact energy at a reasonable cost and – where most of the company’s international competitors are focusing on renewable energy – the cluster could bring an industrial facility to net-zero emissions the CEO asserted.

Advanced nuclear, he said, has attractive advantages over other sources of clean power, including a compact footprint, competitive cost, and enhanced power and steam reliability.

Dow calculates that the units could begin providing process heat and power to one of its production facilities by about 2030. Altogether, the deployment is projected to reduce emissions at the Seadrift site by some 440,000 tonnes of CO2 annually.

The partners are preparing to submit a construction permit application to the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and work on the reactor project is expected to begin in 2026.

The US Department of Energy has pledged $25 million to support the engineering work as part of its Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program. 

Author: Dede Williams, Freelance Journalist